HMS DAEDALUS
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Airfield  Buildings & Architecture History

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Daedalus has perhaps one of the most complete Air Station building complexes from World War One to the present that exist in the UK, and certainly remains one of the most complete Naval Aviation establishments anywhere in the world. The site comprises an air field  of 100 acres, containing over a million square feet of buildings, and an airfield of 400 acres with three multi directional runaways. The buildings include large hangars, accommodation blocks, and a wardroom overlooking the Solent.
 
Interactive Map - Virtual Daedalus

Daedalus - Lee on Solent Street Map
Daedalus runway
Daedalus South - WW1 Seaplane sheds and Slipway
Daedalus South - Main Hangers
Daedalus South - Headquarter buildings
Daedalus North - Blister hangers
Daedalus North-East - Barracks
Daedalus Fleet Air Arm Memorial

The earliest extant buildings include the complex of First World War seaplane hangers and slipway remnants in the south of the establishment. The airfield (most of which lies in the Borough of Fareham) contains a comprehensive perimeter track system with hangars, control tower, airfield management system, fuel farm and support services.

A survey of the structures has been undertaken by English Heritage in support of their study into the historical importance of the buildings.

Of the main historic buildings are the Headquarters for the Fleet Air Arm - Wykeham Hall, the Headquarters for Coastal Area and Coastal Command - Eagle Block, the Wardroom officer's mess, Triumph galley, the 1920s married quarters, guardhouse and the various WW1 to WW2 aeroplane sheds, hangers and associated stores. The main built up Air Station area in the south of the establishment has been designated a Conservation Area by Gosport Borough Council.

Aviation Headquarters buildings

The most important period was the construction of the headquarter buildings in the 1930s. The key group of headquarter buildings are grouped on the southern edge of the airfield, these being the old Headquarters Coastal Area and Station Offices - Eagle Block, the Officers Mess Wardroom, and Westcliffe House - the officers mess and quarters from 1917.

Wykeham Hall, is an imposing building dating from 1895 is of particular significance to the Fleet Air Arm and was originally requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1917 and became HQ Flag Officer Naval Command in the 1930s. Ross House, originally named Beachcroft and built in 1898 was incorporated into the base in the 1930's and used as the Captain's House.  This prominent and imposing Victorian villa fronting Marine Parade was sold by the Ministry of Defence in 1996/7 and demolished in September 1999,  and a block of flats has  appeared in its place. The loss of this building increased the desire to ensure that the remaining historical buildings on the site were given protection.

Aeroplane sheds and aircraft hangers

In the Southern boundary of the establishment three Aeroplane sheds unique to Lee-on-Solent date from 1917-18 of Admiralty steel design  - Admiralty Type "J" Aeroplane sheds. Two are adjacent to their original slipway and the winch house.

The parachute store dates from 1926 and extended in 1939.

The assemblage of old 1930s and second world war hangars, includes typical Type C, T2 Type and Blister Hangers built across the British Empire from 1914 onwards. Daedalus includes the great Dunning Hanger, a Type C hanger, which dominates the south of the airfield and which hosted a large concert with a band of HM Royal Marines and the well known wartime singer Anne Shelton for the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994. There are also aircraft sheds, machine rooms, stores, parachute stores, offices, messes, barracks, fire engine huts, marital quarters, tennis courts, rifle ranges; a complete assemblage of pre-war and wartime structures. The residences largely date from 1930s, and include the magnificent brick and stone three-storey Wardroom with its mock Tudor main wing. A number of the buildings still show the flak and bombing damage from the Battle of Britain and Blitz periods of 1940-1941.

The hangers are being used to store all sorts of odd things, not only do they host the Hovercraft Museum Trust's collection of hovercraft, but they also include 57 very large RIB's used for an adventure project, sponsored by a tobacco company, and recently a pair of Super Catalinas which are being restored to airworthy condition.

The Hangars at Daedalus have seen many odd sights. The largest single artefact left from the Battle of Trafalgar is the Fore Topsail of HMS Victory. Measuring 80 foot at its base, 54 foot at the head and 54 feet deep, the sail covers an area of 3,618 square feet. It is pock marked by some 90 shot holes and further apertures caused by 19th century souvenir hunters .To effect this the sail was again removed from the ship on 22nd April 1993 and taken to a hanger in HMS Daedalus where it was inspected by representatives from the Textile Conservation Centre  based at Hampton Court.



 
 
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